President Joseph Biden’s State of the Union speech March 1 kicked off an effort to use Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine to justify strengthening the U.S. imperialist war machine. “We, the United States of America, stand with the Ukrainian people,” he claimed. But there is no “we,” the class interests of workers and farmers are sharply counterposed to the interests of the U.S. capitalist rulers. Biden made that clear, saying, “We use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses.”
For working people here, the toilers in Ukraine are our class allies, and their fight for national independence is our fight. For Biden and both main capitalist parties, the plight of Ukraine is an opportunity to find new ways to strengthen their hand for future wars over markets and profits.
While Biden made it clear that the U.S. rulers have no intention of backing Ukraine on the ground, he did say, “We have mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, ship deployments” worldwide. This is part of significant shifts underway as all the imperialist powers reassess their military and take steps to better prepare to defend their national interests.
As they gear up for coming wars abroad, U.S. bosses and their government are fighting to extract greater profits out of working people at home. Biden presented nothing to offer workers any protection from this assault. Nor did anyone else in the “rebuttals” that followed from both Republicans and Democrats.
While workers and farmers confront falling real wages and persistent unemployment, Biden claimed that on his watch “more jobs [were] created in one year than ever before.” In fact, this just reflects the vast number of workers tossed out of work during pandemic shutdowns pushed by both Biden and Donald Trump before him.
There are still 2.3 million less workers in the labor force than before the pandemic. And the percentage of women participating in the workforce today has fallen, amid skyrocketing costs for child care and declining choices about how to raise a family. Over 4 million workers, especially in retail and restaurants, wanted full-time work but could only get part-time hours.
Seeking to maximize profits, bosses over the last year at Kellogg’s and elsewhere forced strikes on workers across the country, as they pushed mandatory overtime, 12-hour shifts and life-draining schedules.
Biden lamented his failure to get enough support from fellow Democrats to pass a $2 trillion “Build Back Better” bill loaded with largesse for the employing class and “climate control” schemes. He repackaged pieces of it in his March 1 address, including funding to build 500,000 electric car charging stations.
Biden blames Trump for Putin’s war
The day after the State of the Union address, Biden claimed the Jan. 6, 2021, break-in at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of former President Trump encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch his murderous assaults on the Ukrainian people. “How would you feel if you saw crowds storm and break down the doors of the British Parliament and kill five cops, injure 145 — or the German Bundestag or the Italian Parliament?” Biden said.
Democrats are using the Jan. 6 break-in to portray the former president as a criminal, hoping to bring charges that will prevent him from running in 2024. A wing of the Republicans share these goals, convinced Trump is a barrier to them reaping the benefits of Biden’s unpopularity.
In a step reflecting Democratic Party divisions, the president’s State of the Union speech was followed by three “rebuttals” from Democrats. Rashida Tlaib, from the Democrats socialist wing, demanded the party push the entire stalled Build Back Better plan, and blamed other Democrats for its failure. Letting Tlaib respond to Biden was like “slashing your own tires,” Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer complained.
These divisions reflect the political crisis facing the capitalist rulers, who see neither party capable of running a stable government, nor steering a self-confident course for their interests at home or abroad. At the same time, they increasingly fear that working people will less and less look to them for solutions.
“Workers need our own party, a labor party, based on our unions,” Lea Sherman, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Congress from New Jersey, told workers as she campaigned against Moscow’s war on Ukraine independence.
“It would organize and educate all the exploited and oppressed, to take on the attacks of the bosses and their government and to fight to replace their rule with a workers and farmers government,” she said.